Clothing factory owners in the UK have been forced to pay out almost £90,000 to employees for not paying them the minimum wage, new figures have shown.
Between financial years 2012 and 2018, an average of £900 has been paid out to 126 factory workers, data from HMRC indicates.
Of the 24 cases where arrears were identified, the total value of the penalties levied was £82,664.
More than £1,350, equivalent to around three weeks’ pay at national minimum wage, has been paid in arrears to 10 workers following the investigations.
The HMRC figures were sent to the environmental audit committee as part of its inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry.
A further 14 investigations are still ongoing.
Adam Mansell, chief executive of UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), said: “UKFT welcomes stronger enforcement action to eradicate unlawful practices and exploitation in the garment manufacturing sector.
“These bad practices are undermining the good work of many UK manufacturers which do operate within the law and are striving to produce excellent quality products at competitive prices. UK manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance but we need strong action to allow the industry to thrive.”
Mary Creagh, chair of the committee, said: “’Made in the UK’ should mean workers are paid at least the minimum wage. It has been 20 years since the introduction of the minimum wage but in our inquiry we heard that underpayment is rife and goes hand in hand with a culture of fear and intimidation in the UK’s textile industry. This letter adds to the scandalous and growing evidence of workers being criminally underpaid in the UK. This must stop. We need government action to end these 19th century practices in 21st century Britain.”